Chuckanut Bay is one of seven pocket estuaries found within Bellingham
Bay. Pocket estuaries are shallow, low energy shoreline areas that range
from the mouths of small streams and creeks (such as Chuckanut Creek) to
nearly enclosed bays and lagoons (such as Padden lagoon).
They can be composed of habitats such as unvegetated mud flats, salt marsh, tidal channels and estuarine wetlands. Cumulatively, pocket estuaries are very important to several life history stages of juvenile chum salmon and federally listed juvenile Chinook and steelhead salmon. Chuckanut Bay and adjacent lands also provide habitat for many species of wildlife, including Great Blue Heron.
Restoration of the Chuckanut Village Marsh enhanced the area's ability to provide pocket estuary functions, including improving water quality and providing rearing, foraging and osmo-regulation for juvenile salmonids migrating from nearby Chuckanut Creek. The project involved:
The City’s consulting team, Coastal Geologic Services, developed a final
design for Alternative #1 and incorporated as many citizen comments into the
chosen alternative as possible. Construction was completed in 2012. Funding
for design and permitting is from Whatcom County Marine Resources Committee
via Whatcom County. Funding for construction came from a Centennial Clean
Water Fund grant from Washington State Department of Ecology.
The City held a series of public meetings in spring 2009 regarding the Chuckanut Village Marsh restoration project. Three conceptual alternatives were presented at the meetings along with several blank maps for citizens to design other alternatives. Forty-five people commented during the public comment period. Of those stating a preference for one design alternative, a significant majority preferred Design Alternative #1.
Before-project photos on left. After-project photos on right.
Vehicle access to beach removed. Interpretive signs and dog waste bag dispenser installed.
Beach parking removed. ADA accessible path installed. Native vegetation buffer planted.
Undersized culvert replaced with large box culvert and pedestrian bridge.
Beach road access removed. Native vegetation buffer planted.